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Kane committee looks into role, financing of proposed positions

GENEVA – Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen sought feedback Wednesday from the Finance Committee on how to fund a proposed community outreach coordinator position and debated what that employee’s role should be.

Lauzen said he wants to make Kane County an “electromagnet” to retain and attract employers and “productive taxpaying citizens,” which is where the community outreach coordinator would come in.

He said in his vision, the coordinator would work with key groups in the county, such as veterans, taxpayers, mothers, youth, seniors, traveling retirees, employers and other niche groups, such as gardeners.

Members of the Finance Committee also debated whether the role of the coordinator should include economic development aspects, in addition to overseeing the coordination of various county programs intended to build connections in Kane County.

Board member Cristina Castro, D-Elgin, said the position should focus on only one area, not both.

“I would pick one avenue that you’re going to focus on,” she said. “I only say that because trying to have someone to do both is a lot.”

She said the county could use an economic development coordinator because there isn’t a point person at the county level for potential business owners to reach out to.

Discussion also centered on how to fund the position, which is listed on the county’s website as a full-time position that would pay up to $25 per hour.

A “community outreach assistant” also would be hired to work under the supervision of the coordinator. The post would pay $12 per hour. Both positions would be temporary, six-month contracts.

County Board member John Hoscheit, R-St. Charles, said from an economic perspective, he supports the temporary contracts because the county’s financial commitment is limited.

Lauzen said no individual has been identified yet to serve either role.

He said some county funds have been freed up in recent years that could be used to pay for the positions. He said the county is no longer paying a website development fee, which in past years cost $54,000 to $85,000 per year. The county also is no longer paying for lobbyists, freeing up another $85,000 that isn’t being spent this year.

“So these are places where we’ve saved money this year and I’d like to strategically redeploy some of those funds,” Lauzen said.

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